How to cold brew coffee?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 27, 2024

Cold brew coffee has surged in popularity over the past few years, thanks to its smooth, rich flavor and lower acidity compared to traditional hot-brewed coffee. This guide will walk you through every aspect of making cold brew coffee, from the basic process to advanced tips and tricks.

What is Cold Brew Coffee?

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for an extended period, usually 12 to 24 hours. The result is a coffee concentrate that can be diluted with water or milk. Unlike traditional brewing methods that use heat to extract flavors, cold brewing relies on time, which results in a less acidic and often more flavorful coffee.

Ingredients and Equipment


  • Coarsely ground coffee beans: High-quality, freshly roasted beans are recommended.
  • Filtered water: Using filtered water can improve the taste of your cold brew.


  • Large jar or pitcher: A mason jar, French press, or any large container will work.
  • Coffee grinder: A burr grinder is ideal for achieving a consistent coarse grind.
  • Strainer or cheesecloth: Used to filter out the coffee grounds after steeping.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cold Brew Coffee

Step 1: Choose Your Coffee Beans

Select high-quality coffee beans. While you can use any type of bean, medium to dark roasts are often preferred for cold brewing because they tend to produce a richer and more robust flavor. Light roasts can also be used but may result in a brighter, more acidic brew.

Step 2: Grind the Coffee Beans

Grind your coffee beans to a coarse consistency, similar to breadcrumbs. A coarse grind is essential for cold brew because it prevents over-extraction, which can lead to a bitter taste. If the grind is too fine, it can also make the filtering process more challenging.

Step 3: Combine Coffee and Water

In your large jar or pitcher, combine the coarsely ground coffee with cold, filtered water. A common ratio is 1:4, meaning one part coffee to four parts water. For example, if you’re using 1 cup of coffee grounds, you’ll need 4 cups of water.

Step 4: Stir and Steep

Stir the mixture gently to ensure all the coffee grounds are fully saturated. Cover the jar or pitcher and let it steep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. The longer the steeping time, the stronger the flavor will be.

Step 5: Strain the Coffee

After the steeping period, it’s time to strain the coffee. Use a fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. Pour the cold brew concentrate into a clean jar or pitcher for storage.

Step 6: Dilute and Serve

Cold brew coffee is usually quite concentrated, so you’ll want to dilute it before drinking. A common dilution ratio is 1:1, meaning equal parts cold brew concentrate and water or milk. Adjust the ratio to your taste preferences. Serve your cold brew over ice and enjoy!

Advanced Tips for Perfect Cold Brew

Experiment with Ratios

While the 1:4 coffee-to-water ratio is a good starting point, don’t be afraid to experiment. Some people prefer a stronger concentrate and use a 1:3 ratio, while others opt for a milder brew with a 1:5 ratio. The ideal ratio will depend on your taste preferences and how you plan to serve the cold brew.

Use a French Press

If you have a French press, it can simplify the straining process. After steeping, simply press down the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid. This method can be less messy and more convenient than using a strainer or cheesecloth.

Add Flavorings

For a unique twist, consider adding flavorings to your cold brew. Common additions include vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, or even a splash of flavored syrup. Add these ingredients during the steeping process to infuse the cold brew with extra flavor.

Pay Attention to Water Quality

Since cold brew coffee is mostly water, the quality of the water you use can significantly impact the final flavor. Using filtered water can help remove any impurities that might affect the taste of your cold brew.

Store Properly

Store your cold brew concentrate in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last for up to two weeks, but it’s best enjoyed within the first week for optimal flavor. Make sure to keep it chilled to maintain its freshness.

Cold Brew vs. Iced Coffee

It’s important to note the difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee. While both are served cold, they are made using different methods. Iced coffee is brewed hot and then chilled, usually by pouring over ice. This process can result in a more acidic and sometimes bitter flavor. Cold brew, on the other hand, is never exposed to heat, resulting in a smoother and less acidic cup of coffee.

Health Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee

Lower Acidity

One of the main benefits of cold brew coffee is its lower acidity. This makes it gentler on the stomach and can be a better option for individuals with acid reflux or other digestive issues.


Cold brew coffee is rich in antioxidants, which can help combat inflammation and protect against various diseases. While the antioxidant content can vary depending on the beans and brewing method, cold brew generally retains a high level of these beneficial compounds.

Less Bitterness

The cold brewing process extracts fewer bitter compounds from the coffee beans, resulting in a smoother and more palatable drink. This can make cold brew an excellent option for those who find traditional coffee too harsh or bitter.

Caffeine Content

Cold brew coffee typically has a higher caffeine content than regular coffee. This is because the cold brewing process allows for a more concentrated extraction of caffeine. However, the final caffeine content will depend on the coffee-to-water ratio and how the cold brew is diluted before serving.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using Fine Grounds

Using finely ground coffee can lead to over-extraction and a bitter taste. Always use coarsely ground coffee to ensure a smooth and balanced cold brew.

Not Steeping Long Enough

Cold brew coffee needs ample time to steep and extract flavors fully. Steeping for less than 12 hours can result in a weak and underwhelming brew. Aim for a steeping time of 12 to 24 hours for the best results.

Improper Storage

Cold brew coffee should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leaving it at room temperature or in an open container can cause it to spoil quickly. Proper storage is essential for maintaining the freshness and flavor of your cold brew.

Crafting the perfect cold brew coffee involves a blend of art and science. From selecting the right beans to finding the ideal coffee-to-water ratio, each step offers room for personalization and experimentation. As you refine your technique, you'll discover the nuances that make cold brew a delightful and refreshing alternative to traditional coffee.

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